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Los Angeles may be the City of Angels, but traffic is a nightmare; the freeways are constantly clogged in every direction, for every possible reason, ranging from rain to a game. Using the Metro as often as possible is my way of lessening both my carbon footprint and preserving my sanity.  I’ve used the Metro nearly every time I’ve gone downtown and it’s been the most efficient and least stressful method (and no I’m not being paid by them in any way to say this)!

The Miyako Inn is only one block from the Little Tokyo metro stop and in the heart of Little Tokyo. I had of course come to visit this neighborhood and have eaten here before, but it’s a much better experience to stay overnight rather than drive 30-60 minutes (depending on traffic) to get home. To top off the treat of not needing my car, the room was a gift from a friend who left town in the afternoon and asked if I wanted it for the night. YES!

Because of its location in Little Tokyo, the room is done in a very zen style, with clean lines and neutral tones. If I had chosen to drive instead of take the metro, the parking rates were extremely reasonable for downtown, at only $30 for guests with unlimited in and out access. Free Wifi was also included in the entire hotel to guests and visitors alike.

The bed was super comfortable with the most heavenly pillows and one of the most remarkable features of the room was that the windows OPENED! There was a mini fridge, a safe, slippers, and a coffee / tea maker all included in the room along with an ironing board and iron. As an impressive touch they even had organic green tea as one of the in room complimentary choices. Water was a reasonable (for a hotel) $2 a bottle.

 The toilet was a fun Japanese one

 with bidet controls for temperature, water pressure, and direction 🙂

 I found these inside the nightstand top drawer!

 This view lit up at night,

 but the brightest light was the full moon.

I love Seoul Sausage Company‘s brick and mortar location near Sawtelle, and I found that they have a location in Little Tokyo, so I headed out for happy hour and their famous KFC: Korean Fried Chicken. Crisp, sweet, and slightly spicy with bits of pickled radish, this is great bar food, or you can get a full order of 6 for a meal. If I lived in the area I would probably come by here every night for a bite and a drink 🙂

Being in Little Tokyo meant ramen places were just across the street from the hotel. Daikokuya usually has lines out the door, but since I could the literally see the place from my window, I just peeked out until the line was shorter 🙂 I got the miso ramen, and although the noodles were great and the broth was flavorful, it did not have the complexity of the broth at Tsujita.

I couldn’t leave without sushi, so the next day I went to the famous Sushi Gen 30 minutes before they opened and waited in the line that was already a block long. It looked like every table ordered the sashimi deluxe lunch, but it was a massive plate of food and there was no way I could have eaten it all, so I opted for the chirashi which came with miso soup.

This bowl of chirashi was the freshest and biggest I’ve ever enjoyed. It may look like a regular bowl, but underneath the fish you see is ANOTHER layer and the bits that look like bites are actually much larger  than they seem. I would gladly wait an hour or more for this and many people did. Those who arrived when they opened and after noon may not have been able to get seated before they closed between lunch and dinner service. They are famous for a reason; I’ve never paid such a reasonable price (under $20) for such high quality sashimi anywhere in the world.

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Michelin stars used to only be award to the white gloved, ironed tablecloth, Baccarat crystal wine glass establishments where you pay as much for a meal as for a nice used car. Tastes have changed, not only in custom but in cuisine, and what was formerly considered too casual or colloquial, is now being recognized as masterful and artful.

Din Tai Fung the famous chain of 150 restaurants has a Michelin star. They are most famous for soup dumplings. One order of their famous dish costs less than $10 and their locations are inside three malls in the suburbs of Los Angeles.

A friend and I went when they first opened inside the Westfield Santa Anita a few months ago, after consolidating two nearby locations into a bigger one inside this mall. We were terribly disappointed by the famous soup dumplings being underdone on top. You can see the top bits are not translucent and look like underdone pasta; we didn’t even finish our order 😦

After subsequent visits, I am happy to report that they have worked out the kinks. They are now serving beautiful and delicious dumplings that are worthy of their reputation.

 Their vegetable side dishes were perfect, whether sautéed bok choy,

 dumplings with chili,

or mustard greens.

Side Chick is around the corner from the huge famous restaurant in the “Asian Alley” of food places on the second floor of the mall. Serving perhaps the only Hainan Chicken Rice in a mall in the USA. The superbly tenderly poached Mary’s chicken is good enough to eat plain, but if you mix the three containers of ginger/scallion, dark soy, and sambal together, you will create the most addictive of sauces. FYI, the rice is cooked with chicken fat, and you are supposed to eat the skin, so this is NOT a low calorie meal, but it is a tasty one! There is also a roasted chicken version that is slightly sweet, if you prefer, and you can specify combo, white, or dark meat. At around $10, this is a great deal,

and you can add garlicky sautéd onchoy side to complete your meal.

I go to malls to eat, not to shop:)

After three years in France, my first stop for Mexican food was my old favorite, Cacao (see my previous post here). A GIGANTIC serving of guacamole was conveniently served in a plastic container ready to cover and take home to go. The serving was easily enough for four people and although I didn’t have a ruler with me, I’m guessing it was 6″ in diameter and 2″ deep! The fresh home made chips had a nice spicy sprinkling if you didn’t want one of the two salsas, one spicy, one not.

Lovely touches like rosemary table water set this place apart from the plethora of other Mexican places in Los Angeles.

Mission Fig Mole Poblano with free range airline chicken breast, topped with homemade mole sauce, marcona almonds, and sesame seeds, side of calabacitas, a vegetable mix of zucchini, squash, corn, and tomato for $19.95 is a great choice if you have never had home made mole. The quality of the chicken breast was evident with every moist bite, and the portion was generous enough to feed 2 or one very hungry athlete.

I couldn’t decide whether I wanted my red snapper fish tacos fried or grilled so I got one of each for $3.95 each. The fried version used Alesmith brown beer batter, both topped with crema, cabbage, pico de gallo and salsa, and the grilled version was perfectly grilled. Even after eating both versions, I still would want both because I would have been unable to pick a favorite; it’s like trying to decide if you prefer regular bacon or billionaire’s bacon for your BLT 🙂

During lunch they offer a taco truck special of three tacos with a non alcoholic drink, rice and beans for $9.95. I chose the carne asada and adored the grilled scallions on the side as much as the classic asada.

Their menu encompasses all the classics, a few twists, like sea urchin, duck, and Korean style kalbi. There are several vegetarian options, and people come in just to buy their chips or get orders to go because quality and care are two  of the most important ingredients in any dish. Eagle Rock may be a bit of a trek for most Angelenos, but it’s closer than Mexico 🙂

The predawn close up view of the floats is incredible, but so is seeing the same floats in natural daylight with people on them and the animations running:)

There were lots of horses,

 including the famous Clydesdales,

 who had their own mascot,

 and luxury transportation.

There was plenty of security.

The Goodyear Blimp hovered overhead with several helicopters.

Porta-potties were strategically placed on side streets.

The Red Cross was on hand in case anyone needed CPR.

But I doubt that this dragon will attack those people 🙂

The parade may be over for this year but some slogans ring true all year long:)

At 5 AM this morning I experienced the magical Rose Parade up close for the first time:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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